Derek Dooley wants to be the one to decide the depth chart, not the media.
When asked about the stability of the offensive line on Wednesday — all five starters from 2018 return — Dooley instead posed a question to the reporters.
“How many guys made all-conference last year?,” Dooley asked. “On our offense? I’m just curious, because we talk about these guys are entrenched, how did the backups do?
“How many guys made all-conference?”
Overall, Missouri placed two offensive players on the all-conference team (Drew Lock, first team, and J’Mon Moore, second team). But, ostensibly, Dooley was referring to the offensive line, so a quiet answer of “no one” was accurate.
“That’s what I thought,” Dooley said. “If you haven’t made all-conference yet, then it’s open season. That’s how I feel. And if you have made all-conference, then you need to keep performing at that level.
“But until we start having All-Americans, all-conference players, it doesn’t matter that you started. You might have started by default, because we didn’t get anybody better than you. It doesn’t mean you’re good.
“We clear on that? With the starting deal? Starting pissing me off.”
A reporter threw the question (respectfully) back at Dooley, asking if the players are clear on that.
“They better be,” Dooley said. “But, here’s the reality: Until they feel competition behind them, they’re not going to believe that. That’s a fair point, too. So they have to feel competition, and that’s the importance of recruiting. You’ve got to bring a lot of good players in, and the more you compete, the more you feel guys nipping behind you. Hey, you don’t want to practice? Fine. Put the next guy in.”
Dooley’s rant came after Barry Odom told reporters he was confident in his top five offensive linemen, but not confident in the players behind them — with the depth.
Missouri center Trystan Colon-Castillo — one of those returning starters — said he welcomes Dooley’s mindset.
“You have an X on your back,” Colon-Castillo said. “He’s right. None of us were all-SEC, so we can’t just be like, oh we did this, we did that. Obviously the rest of the conference didn’t see it that way, so we need to come out here, work everyday, get better, push each other, especially the guys down with the twos.
“Just because we were a one last year doesn’t mean we’re going to be a one this year.”